A United States win or tie against Germany automatically sends the team to the knockout stage. But as detailed yesterday on For The Win, things get a little more complicated in the U.S. loses and the Portugal-Ghana game doesn’t end in a tie. The first tiebreaker between the United States and the Portugal-Ghana winner is goal differential and as Nate Scott explained, “the U.S. have a +1 goal difference, two better than Ghana’s -1 and five better than Portugal’s -4.” After that, the next tiebreaker is goals scored.
Rather than trying to work out the math in your head, a Twitter user named Andy Keller made a handy chart that lays out the scenario for every conceivable result on Thursday. The top row lists potential Germany-U.S. scores. The side column lists potential Ghana-Portugal scores. Line them up to find out what happens to the U.S.A. based on 209 different scenarios.
If Germany defeats USA 2-1 and Ghana defeats Portugal 2-1, the United States advances. But if Germany defeats USA 2-1 and Ghana defeats Portugal 2-0 (or 3-1 or 4-2), the United States does NOT advance.
This is because the USA leads Ghana by two in goal differential. But the minimum USA loss (by one goal) and minimum Ghana win (by one goal) would leave them even in the standings and in goal differential. Because of that swing, the U.S. can’t afford to lose by more than one goal if Ghana wins. Every goal will count.
If you’re looking for the Cliff’s Notes version of the chart, or an easy-to-remember guide for Thursday, good luck. There are so many permutations if the U.S. loses to Germany. But basically it’s pray for a Portugal-Ghana tie, root for a close Portugal win and hold your breath if Ghana gets the victory.
From Chris Chase of USA Today – http://ftw.usatoday.com/author/chris-chase